ESPN's Mel Kiper has released his third Mock Draft of the 2016 season and this is the first time that the New England Patriots could be in a less-than-ideal situation.
The Patriots enter the draft with needs at running back, wide receiver, offensive tackle, linebacker, and possibly cornerback. While Ezekiel Elliott is the only running back off the board (to the Jets), there are more players in those other groups that have been taken early, which makes it less likely that a top talent in any of these groups will be available.
Kiper sends five cornerbacks into the first, with Jalen Ramsey, Vernon Hargreaves III, Eli Apple, Kendall Fuller, and Williams Jackson III coming off the board. This means that the Patriots options are cornerback will be extremely thin at the end of the second because a run at the position will likely start a panic.
Three linebackers- Myles Jack, Reggie Ragland, and Darron Lee- go in the first as Jaylon Smith continues his freefall due to a serious injury. The Patriots might have to wait until later in the draft to address the linebacker spot.
For the first time we see three wide receivers go in the first- Laquon Treadwell, Josh Doctson, and Will Fuller- which means that the wide receivers that could be available at the bottom of the 2nd could rise up the board and require the Patriots to trade around in order to acquire a top talent.
The standard five offensive tackles come off the board, which in a vacuum wouldn't cause a concern, but becomes an issue in conjunction with the runs at the other positions. If every single position that the Patriots need is heavily featured in the first round, then New England will be left waiting for either a lesser player or addressing a position without need.